No pitcher who has thrown a minimum of 150 innings has thrown his fastball at a higher average velocity than Noah Syndergaard. No batter in baseball has faced fastballs at a higher average velocity than Kris Bryant.
Sunday’s Game 2 will feature one of baseball’s longest rivalries as power arms square off against power hitters.
The average velocity on the fastballs seen by Bryant is 93.1. Teammates Anthony Rizzo (92.9 mph), Addison Russell (92.8) and Chris Coghlan (92.7) also rank in the top 10 in highest fastball velocity faced. You can check out that Fangraphs leaderboard here.
Meanwhile, Syndergaard’s fastball averages 97.1 mph and he throws it 61.7 percent of the time, per FanGraphs. That leaderboard is a who’s who of flamethrowers that you can see here.
But it’s not as if the Cubs haven’t faced hard-throwing right-handers often this year. They have faced 13 of the top 20 hardest fastballs in baseball, including 12 of the top 19 right-handed pitchers.
There aren’t too many slouches on this list, which includes Yordano Ventura (96.3, vs. Cubs), Matt Harvey (95.9, vs. Cubs), Gerrit Cole (95.6, vs. Cubs), Carlos Martinez (95.3, vs. Cubs), Jacob deGrom (95.0, vs. Cubs), Danny Salazar (94.8, vs. Cubs), Andrew Cashner (94.8, vs. Cubs), Rubby de la Rosa (94.3, vs. Cubs) and Jeff Samardzija (94.2, vs. Cubs), in addition to Syndergaard, who the Cubs faced in his first big league start on May 12.
Against the 10 hardest-throwing right-handers, the Cubs are 106-for-430, which is good enough for a .247 batting average. Nothing spectacular, but nothing out of the ordinary considering their overall team batting average was .244 this season.
Of those 106 hits, 11 have been home runs, 13 have been doubles and two have been triples. The percentage of extra-base hits being 24.5 percent is actually lower than what they did in the regular season as 35.3 percent of their hits went for extra bases in the regular season.
Cubs hitters, who have been prone to striking out all season, don’t buck that trend against this collection of hard-throwing righties, racking up 121 strikeouts in their 430 at-bats (28.1 percent of those ending in strikeouts). They have also walked 38 times (8.1 percent walk rate).
Overall, the Cubs have faced an average fastball velocity of 92.7, which is the highest in the majors. And they have seen them quite often, specifically, at a 58.3 percent rate which is the 12th highest.
Using FanGraphs’ weighted pitch values, Cubs hitters have held their own when facing a fastball. Their 35.7 wFB is the eighth best in The Show, with Rizzo’s 34.0 wFB the best among Cubs hitters and fifth best in baseball.
And while being in the top 10 is generally a good thing, it pales in comparison to what the Blue Jays have done with the heater, as their 123.3 wFB is far and away the best in baseball.